The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) is the educational component of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program that offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families.
SNAP-Ed is an evidence-based program that helps people lead healthier lives. SNAP-Ed teaches low-income families or individuals — particularly those using or eligible for SNAP — about good nutrition and how to make their food dollars stretch further. SNAP-Ed participants also learn to be physically active.
In Minnesota, SNAP-Ed is administered through the Minnesota Department of Human Services Office of Economic Opportunity. There are eight implementing agencies that deliver SNAP-Ed in Minnesota: the University of Minnesota Extension (as described below) and the seven Anishinaabe Tribes (Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, Red Lake, and White Earth).
SNAP-Ed: Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice (PDF) — Use this brochure to tell others about the SNAP-Ed program at University of Minnesota Extension.
University of Minnesota’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) team helps low-income individuals and families make diet and lifestyle choices to improve their health and prevent obesity. Our education provides Minnesota families with tools and strategies to help counter the effects of food insecurity, poverty, and obesity. The SNAP-Ed team does this by:
- Partnering with organizations to reach individuals and families in their communities.
- Teaching participants how to shop for healthy foods, within a limited budget, at area stores and farmers markets.
- Demonstrating quick, easy, fun ways to prepare healthful, delicious meals.
- Helping communities create and sustain environments that support people in their efforts to eat healthier foods and become more physically active.
- Providing training to community partners on changing practices and systems to create a healthier environment.
We deliver our education:
- To individuals and families, from elementary-school students to older adults, who are eligible for SNAP benefits or other federal assistance programs, or meet our program income guidelines.
- In a variety of community settings, such as food shelves, schools, community centers, and public housing sites.
- Free to all individuals and families who meet income guidelines.
- In English, Spanish, Somali, Hmong, and Oromo, depending on audience needs and the availability of health and wellness coordinators.
- In every county in Minnesota.
To see SNAP-Ed in action, watch the two and a half minute video below featuring Andrew Doherty, a SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators and registered dietitian nutritionist:
By partnering together, we can shape the environment so families and individuals gain access to healthy food and tools for making lasting changes. Together, we can make the healthy choice the easy choice for people across Minnesota.
The University of Minnesota Extension SNAP-Ed team can partner with your agency on educational offerings, or on a project for changing practices and systems to create an environment conducive to healthier living.
To get started, contact a SNAP-Ed staff near you (see below). You could also explore our available SNAP-Ed Educational Offerings.
In 2019, our colleagues from Minnesota Landscape Arboretum traveled across Minnesota to train Master Gardeners, SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators, and 4-H coordinators on the Children’s Garden in Residence curriculum (CGR). SNAP-Ed organized 28 programs across the state throughout 16 counties, reaching a total of 571 children. CGR uses a science-based, hands-on approach curriculum for discovery in the garden. The curriculum is broken into seven weeks. Each two-hour session featured gardening, science, and nutrition lessons that were tied together by topic.
Many of the kids had never gardened and were surprised to discover how easy it was to grow vegetables. The gardeners harvested produce to take home each week and were able to use some of the foods for the recipes prepared during the nutrition lesson. The students kept journals that tracked the height of their plants and reflected on what they had learned each week.
SuperShelf transforms food shelves, creating welcoming environments for communities to access appealing, healthy food. By relying on trained SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators as consultants rather than a pre-formatted toolkit approach, SuperShelf is adaptable for any size or type of food shelf. We work in rural, suburban and urban food shelves across the state of Minnesota that serve anywhere from 160 clients per month to over 6,000 clients per month. After successfully completing the transformation food shelves can become certified as a ‘SuperShelf’. As of 2019 there are certified SuperShelves in every region of the state.
SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators are trained to be SuperShelf consultants and work with food shelves to:
- Create a food shelf environment that is client-centered, promoting and respecting individual choice.
- Increase access to a variety of healthy, culturally appropriate food.
- Apply behavioral economic principles to promote healthy food choices.
- Create an appealing environment by transforming the physical space.
- Meet specific SuperShelf standards, methods, and values.
- Make the healthiest choice the easiest choice for all.
SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators have been working to help prevent diabetes throughout Minnesota by teaching I CAN Prevent Diabetes (ICPD). The program helps participants lower their risk of diabetes by losing weight, adopting healthy eating habits and increasing physical activity. In Worthington, we partnered with the YMCA. Participants take ICPD classes, then a session with a personal trainer or they take a Zumba class. The YMCA provides childcare and offers reduced cost memberships for ICPD participants. Classes are held weekly for 16 weeks then monthly for the balance of the year.
Barriers such as lack of time, childcare and transportation can make it difficult for many eligible individuals to attend in-person SNAP-Ed classes. Recently conducted focus groups indicated that while eligible young adults were interested in accessing online nutrition education, they were not interested in traditional, module based online courses. Real Life, Good Food is an innovative online education tool that can expand reach to new audiences using a self directed website featuring healthy eating tips, physical activity ideas and recipes.
Go Wild with Fruits & Veggies and Go Wild with Whole Grains are fun, evidence-based programs. They were developed in Minnesota for 3rd to 5th grade students using animal characters to encourage students to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and to be more physically active. In 2019, we reached over 4,500 students!
Menahga Elementary School got the whole school to ‘Go Wild.’ The program was presented to the 4th grade class, participating in a daily activity challenge — Walk to the Headwaters. The rest of the school incorporated the program into their monthly school assemblies. They had physically active games, guest speakers and taste testing. The families of the 4th grade participants told us they were eating more whole grain foods, checking labels, and using recipes from class. Parents remark their children were more physically active at home and making healthier choices.
Find a SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinator in your community
Counties served: Beltrami, Cass, Carlton, Chisago, Cook, Crow Wing, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, St. Louis and Todd.
Northeast program leadership
SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators
|Christopher Strand||St. Louisfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Linda Erdahl||St. Louisemail@example.com|
|Abby DeVita||St. Louisfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Samantha Barron||Little Fallsemail@example.com|
|Elizabeth Quillo||Long Prairiefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Kristin Riley||Pine Cityemail@example.com|
Counties served: Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Mahnomen, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, Traverse, Wadena and Wilkin.
Northwest program leadership
Northwest SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators
|Donna Anderson||Park Rapidsfirstname.lastname@example.org|
Counties served: Blue Earth, Brown, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Le Sueur, Mower, Nicollet, Olmsted, Rice, Sibley, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca and Winona.
Southeast program leadership
Southeast SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators
|Milena Nunez Garcia||Rochesteremail@example.com|
Counties served: Big Stone, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Pope, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Stevens, Swift, Watonwan and Yellow Medicine.
Southwest program leadership
Southwest SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators
|Maria Conchita Paez-Sievert||Worthingtonfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Luisa Trapero||St. Jamesemail@example.com|
Counties served: Benton, McLeod, Meeker, Sherburne, Stearns and Wright.
Central program leadership
Central SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators
|Dianne Davis-Kenning||St. Cloudfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Angelica Peña||St. Cloudemail@example.com|
Counties served: Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington.
Metro program leadership
|Trina Adler||St. Paulfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|CeAnn Klug||St. Paulemail@example.com|
Metro SNAP-Ed health and wellness coordinators
|Maria Teresa Thoreson||Farmingtonfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Anna Sneltjes||Eden Prairieemail@example.com|
|Nimo Yusuf||Eden Prairiefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Thao Pham||Eden Prairieemail@example.com|
State-wide health and nutrition educators
State-wide health and nutrition program leadership
State-wide health and nutrition educators
|Kate Welshons||St. Paulfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Serdar Mamedov||St. Cloudemail@example.com|
Reviewed in 2022